Thursday, December 27, 2007

Painting: Zoe Dog Portrait for Christmas

After having fun with landscapes I decided to get back into what I've always loved: portraits. I thought I'd start a bit easier with a portrait of our dog, Zoe. (Explanation about Zoe: I got her when I was dating David and then about a year after we married we moved to the Bay Area and Zoe went to my in-laws in Phoenix, we thought for a few months, but it's been about 8 years. When we moved back to Utah, and a fenced yard, we just couldn't take her away from them, so though she still seems like ours she is a pet we visit rather than live with.) I also thought it would be an easy pick of a subject to do a painting for David for Christmas because he loves Zoe!

Well, it was so much fun working on this! I do love portraits. I love the challenge. I can't be lazy at all if I'm trying to get a good likeness and that was the case here. I thought Zoe would be a bit easier but I might as well have been painting my daughter, Audrey, because it seemed that degree of difficulty.

I feel like this is my first strong painting since getting back into it. It's nice to have completed something I'm excited about. It was especially fun to see David's, and his parents', reactions when he opened it for Christmas. They were surprised and loved it. In fact, I should probably do one sometime for David's father because he's always drawn to dog paintings.
This is a small canvas too--8"x10--but because it's a close up it felt about right in terms of brush size, strokes and the level of detail I wanted. Now I know...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Crochet: Christmas Dress for Audrey

I thought this was a sweet pattern when I saw it in Crochet Today. They showed it with a red velvet skirt but I made it all in off-white, because I can't get enough of babies and children in white or off-white.

This was actually a very last minute project because I had so many other fun things in the works for Christmas. I finished it just in time for Audrey to wear to church today. That was even with 2 re-dos on the crochet bodice! It kept turning out too big, no doubt because I never bother with a gauge stitch and I substituted Paton's Divine yarn instead of what was called for. Anyway, I got it done.

This skirt is a babywale corduroy I found at JoAnn fabric store. I love babywale--so soft and yet so much less care than a velvet.

We took these photos of Audrey with our Christmas tree this morning. Pretty adorable Christmas photo if you ask me. She looks like a little angel!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sewing: Girlie Aprons for My Nieces, and their Mom, for Christmas

This year my family is trying a new type of gift exchange for Christmas: rather than exchanging individual names, or giving to everyone (as, to be honest, I love and prefer it but I guess it's a bit out of control that way) we are rotating through our sibling order and each giving to a family. So my family is giving to my younger sister, Christy's, family. She has two little girls, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, and they are getting a kitchen playset for Christmas, so I talked to Christy about getting them play food to go with. Found this adorable HABA BIOFINA felt food at Moolka--I'm all about natural materials for toys--and decided I should sew some little aprons to go with. My friend Amy, of OurScoop, showed me a pattern for a reversible child's apron made from fat quarters so that kicked off the project.

I found these adorable girlie fabrics to match the pink play kitchen and I decided to add rickrack to the pockets and a pompom trim on the bottom for extra girlie-ness. Also found some great pink and green striped ribbon that coordinated perfectly for the ties.

I loved these fabrics so much I decided to buy extra and make a little reversible tablecloth, with rickrack of course.

Once I'd finished the aprons and tablecloth I couldn't resist making an apron for my sister, Christy, so they could all don matching aprons and play in the kitchen, or cook for real. I didn't use a pattern, just made it up as I went, mostly using fat quarters. To make it really simple (avoid rolling hems) I folded the fabric for the ruffles, stitched to the apron back, and then covered the seam with a topstiched pink ribbon. So if the ruffles flip up, no messy seams. I love this apron--it's so feminine and flirty! I'll have to make one for myself someday.

I really had fun with the trims--rickrack and pompoms and ribbon. I stopped before making their dad, Justin, one too...sorry, Justin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Card 2007

I took a more simple approach with our card this year. I found this template on KodakGallery--it's a Martha Stewart design. It wasn't part of their Christmas selections, so I think there is less chance that several of our friends have chosen the same design.

I thought this was a cute photo of Audrey to use--one thinks of children being full of joy at this time of year.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Knitting: Toddler Zipper Cardigan

My paternal grandmother knit a bunch of zippered cardigans for my siblings and me when we were little. I don't know that I loved mine at the time but I really love them now! Mine was red. My brother had a brown one. I can't remember the other colors. The yarn was wash-and-wear polyester and a pretty chunky weight. Very versatile for having on hand in case of a chill.

I decided I wanted to do something like that for Audrey and found this pattern from Paton's for their Melody yarn on JoAnn's website, which is appropriately chunky but also soft. It looks like something I'd want to wrap myself in.
I really like the ribbing at the hems and around the hood. I had to play with the propportions a bit as the hood seemed a bit small.
I hope Audrey will like wearing this as much as I like the idea of her wearing it--always the challenge!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crochet: Vintage Looking Crochet Skirt

Contrary to form, I decided to make something for myself. I saw this skirt pattern in a Family Circle Easy Crochet magazine a few years ago--a magazine I bought, tossed a few months later thinking I wasn't going to do anything with the patterns, and then had to rebuy--what was I thinking?! I must have been pregnant when I tossed it. It is a fabulous collection of patterns. I was lucky to find it online.

So, mag in hand, I was able to try this fun skirt. I haven't done much with crochet in the pattern department so it was a fun little challenge. It went much more quickly than I expected. Makes me want to tackle more complication, it seems to make the project go by more quickly.

Luckily I had the perfect brown skirt to wear under this. Otherwise I would have had to whip something up.

I worried a tiny bit that this skirt was over the top. At a minimum it isn't super flattering, wearing a heavily patterned sweater around the hips, but it is really fun to wear! Nice and swingy. And I received compliments from some unlikely places--people who don't really take note of what I'm wearing.

We'll see how much I wear this. I'm thinking it will at least be a fun dress up or Halloween costume down the line for Audrey.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crochet: Flower Jumper for Audrey

Everything I make is for Audrey...the titles are really a bit redundant. She is my muse. It is unbelievably fun for me to make things for her. I get so excited about it! It's so much more fun than dressing myself! I worry about the day when she won't let me do this for her.

This little brown dress is from a Crochet Today pattern. I decided to embellish it with felted crochet flowers all over the bodice. I wanted it nearly over the top, and I think it's just right. The flowers are crocheted with Moda Dea Cartwheel yarn, and I felted them. I love these flower corsages. I should have made more and made a cardigan for myself--but there's only so much time for me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Painting: Landscape with Cows

I decided to switch it up a bit last class with a landscape with cows in it. I think I took this photo somewhere near Flaming Gorge. I took a lot of photos of bovine landscapes for a while--I liked the look.

This is another little 8"x10". One thing I've decided is that I don't enjoy a composition with a lot of detail at this size! It is too hard. It drove me crazy trying to get the right amount of detail on these little cows. I don't have small enough brushes and I would rather paint with bigger strokes. It's not that I wanted this to be a detailed miniature but I had a difficult time figuring out the right amount of detail. I should say I haven't figured it out.

My favorite part of the painting are the wispy dark clouds in the upper left. I also like the color palette--the dusty purples and subdued yellows and greens. So that's something at least!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Painting: Cloud Painting II

I had so much fun with my first cloud painting, that I decided to try it again. This is another 11"x14" and it is taken from the same photograph as my First Cloud Painting. It was fun to see how this one turned out and what was similar and what was different.

I didn't bring in the first painting so I wasn't sure how the palette might have varied.

I think the two of them actually look good together! I think this would make a fun diptych. I like that there is variation in the blues too. Not sure how I'd frame this--I like a bit of space. The paintings are canvas on board so they're flat--maybe it would be possible to float them on linen. I'll have to experiment.

I'm going to try something different next week. I have a whole stack of photos now that I would like to paint from. That's one thing I have learned and loved about this class. The instructor, Susan Gallacher, does an amazing job of referencing a photo and improving on it. I have always tried to stay so true to whatever I was seeing--whether live or a photos. She has shown me how ou can colmbine a photos reference with knowledge of the subject, the way the light works in a landscape, rules about form and artistic license to produce something much better than the photo you started with. I don't know that I accomplish that necessarily but she really does and it's inspiring!

Painting: First Cloud Painting

I wanted to try painting clouds and this is it! It was so much fun! I don't know where I took the sky picture I referenced but the clouds were amazing. Somewhere driving in Utah I'm sure. This is 11"x14" and I finished it in the class time. I like painting loose and fast--the only thing I do that way!

I like the brush strokes, paint quality and colors. It's funny though. I always have something a bit different in my head. I was telling the others, "no matter what my paintings always end up looking like I painted them!" I guess one can't really change that. I am just not sure my style is my favorite style. :-)
I feel like this marks a good bit of progress from my first landscape, so the practice time seems to be paying off! Maybe I'll do another cloud landscape adn make a diptych.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Painting: Third Landscape

Third, and final I think, landscape based on the Bay of Fundy State Park. I went back to 8"x10" because I had the canvas. This view was a bit more complicated--more going on with water, and reflections on water, and misty cloud covered mountains in the distance. It was a fun challenge but I don't love the final result. It's ok I guess. Maybe it would look better in a frame.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Painting: Second Landscape

This is another landscape based on the photos from the Bay of Fundy State Park. I tried something a little bigger this time (11"x14") and still had the goal of finishing in the class time. I like working quickly.

Not sure about the results however. I like the colors but the values are a bit messed up I think... Oh well. "Time in the pool." That's how my sister, Christine, and I refer to painting time. It's about investing the time and then hopefully seeing the results, similar to when we trained for our first triathlon earlier this year and had to do laps.

So hopefully this time in the pool will start to pay off.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Painting: First Landscape

Well, the second painting class is behind me! This was the product of it. A little 8"x10" landscape based on a photo I took at Bay of Fundy State Park in New Brunswick when I was on a road trip up the coast in college. I loved the landscape--such fabulous, rich fall colors. I always hoped I would paint it.

I haven't really painted landscapes. In highschool I did a bunch of pastel landscapes, but painting has always been based on the figure.

It was fun to do this. I wanted to do a bunch of landscape studies in this class and my goal was to finish this one in the class time and I did. That's at least progress I think.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Crochet: Pink Lace Sweater

I saw this fluffy sweater on the cover of a Moda Dea pattern booklet (Moda Dea Babies & Kids Collection 1) and ordered the kit. I thought it was so darling! A bit hard to work with, with all the holes--hard to see how it's really going to take shape, but this Dream yarn is so soft (totally artificial but silky feeling) and I love the shade of pink. I think Audrey looks darling in it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Painting: First Painting in Years!

My sister, Christine, was also an art major in college. And she hasn't painted in years either. I just got so busy in my career and then marriage and other fun creative pursuits that didn't take the same kind of mental space. And then my daughter arrived of course. But I'm back! Well, trying to get back anyway. Christine convinced me to take a painting class through the university continuing education program. We signed up with another art major friend and thought of it as a way to commit the time and spend some time together.

It was pretty funny, the three of us trying to put paint to canvas again. It was interesting how some things seemed familiar and others were completely lost! We had to laugh a lot.

So this little 8"x10" still life is my first attempt to get back in it. We painted this set up in the studio and this represents about 2 hours of work. Not bad I think given the time and given my long absence.

I just hope I can come back to this at the end of the class and see some improvement!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Knit: Lace Dress for Audrey's One Year Portrait

I wanted to make the perfect, classic, dress for Audrey's first birthday to have her portrait taken in and I think this is really it! This "Molly" Jaeger pattern is so beautiful. I actually bought the #225 (Scarves & More) booklet for the "Polly" pattern (little knit tank dress) but then saw this and added it to my mental list to do.

I love the single button in back, and the rich texture in the skirt. Looks like cabling but it's a bunch of yarn-overs and knits together.

I used a mercenized cotton yarn in a light taupe and matching satin ribbon. I had to undo my work a few times on the first side of this project but it got easier. I'm sure there are many mistakes but luckily the pattern obscures them!

My husband, David, took the above shot of Audrey as she accidentally tumbled down the hill. It is so perfectly summer and childhood and my little girl all at once. I love it. It's so beautiful. I plan to have Audrey's one year portrait taken in this dress, but really can't imagine getting a shot better than this:
This was the most ambitious knitting project I've tackled to date and it has really given my confidence a boost! I can't believe I pulled it off and I can't wait to do more.

Our little one-year-old in her dress:

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Party: Audrey's First Birthday

I can't believe we have celebrated Audrey's first birthday already! First birthdays are such an occassion worth celebrating! Hooray, this little girl was born a year ago! Hooray, I've kept her safe and well fed and loved for the year! Hooray, she is becoming her own little person. Fun to have her little cousin-twin, Kate, to share in the celebration too. I wonder how many years they will celebrate their birthdays together?

They wore their little matching pinafores and bloomers, and I'm glad I found some long-sleeved onesies for them to wear underneath because it wasn't really warm enough to go sleeveless. At least not in my opinion when it comes to baby attire (I'm all about snuggling and covering them).
Given the age of the birthday girls this party was really more about the adults. It was fun to have our families there to celebrate with us. I love backyard gatherings with family.
I mentioned before that I was inspired by the birthday dress fabric to go with the polka dot theme for the invitations and party, and so I continued it with an oilcloth tablecloth for the serving table. I have always loved oilcloth so it was so much fun to order yards of it. I used some different fruit and floral prints for the eating tables but this polka dot is my favorite.

I found some fun, bright red melamine lunch trays at Target and decided to use them for the party guests--mostly adults mind you. Thought it would be a fun through back and remind us that this gathering was really about children. But of course I also think these will be really fun to have and use in the future for the kids--easy for backyard BBQs.

We served my mother's recipe, "Kathy's Open House Salad," which is a spinach, chicken, pasta combination, breadsticks and fresh berries...

...and of course, birthday cake! I made this gumdrop mountain cake from an old issue of Martha Stewart Baby. I always have trouble with her recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream and yet I keep trying it. We had to keep sticking this cake in the fridge to get it to set up a bit while applying the gumdrops so they didn't just slide down the sides! But it finally worked and no one knew the difference.

Audrey seemed entertained by the singing and blowing out of her single candle, but she wasn't really a fan of the cake. That's what I get for keeping sugar away from her this first year!

The parents and our one-year olds:

Recipe: Kathy’s Open House Salad with Spinach, Pasta and Chicken

Equal Parts:

  • Fresh Spinach leaves (washed and stems removed)

  • Cooked Pasta—Penne or Bow-ties (cook and rinse; cool)

Add to Taste:

  • Poached, chopped chicken breast

  • Dried cherries (you can substitute dried cranberries or blueberries)

  • Toasted almonds, roughly chopped

  • “The Original Vinaigrette” from Le Parisien

    To poach chicken breasts, place chicken in pan and cover with cold water. Place on stove and bring water to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool in water. Remove chicken breasts and chop.

    To toast almonds: preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spread nuts in one layer on ungreased shallow baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.

    Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette.
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